Jonathan Woodgate has admitted only hometown club Middlesbrough could have persuaded him to drop out of the Barclays Premier League.
The 32-year-old former England international signed a three-year deal to return to Boro last week after being sounded out by chairman Steve Gibson.
He told the club's official website, www.mfc.co.uk: "I took a call out of the blue from Steve, who basically said, 'Do you fancy it?', and obviously I do.
"I had to explain that I had a few options available to me with a couple of Premier League clubs showing interest in me, and there was also the chance of extending my stay at Stoke.
"But coming back to Boro was a big pull. It's fair to say that I would not have dropped down to the Championship for any other club."